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Update: Sunland Park N.M. fire claims man's life

Published On: Dec 27 2012 01:19:54 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 09:18:58 PM CST

Sunland Park investigators believe 60 year-old Manuel Alvarado used a stove to keep warm at night.

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. -

Firefighters in Sunland Park made a grisly discovery as they were battling a blaze that engulfed a home in the 100 block of Maple Court.

They found the body of a man inside the crumbling structure. Authorities identified him as 60 year-old Manuel Alvarado.

Sergeant Javier Diaz, a spokesman for Sunland Park Police, told ABC-7 officers arrived on the scene at around 8 a.m. after reports of a fire. 

Sunland Park firefighters had to call for backup, as the fire was raging.

Firefighters from Santa Teresa, La Union, Vinton, West Valley, El Paso and Doña Ana fire departments were called out; however, part of the home's roof collapsed, making it unsafe for firefighters to go in.

Sgt. Diaz said a preliminary investigation gave them the initial cause of the fire.

"He may have used a stove to keep warm at night and that may have been the cause of the fire," he told ABC-7.

However, once firefighters put out the hot spots and were able to continue their investigation, they discovered the cause of the fire had been flammable materials placed too close to a space heater.

Alvarado lived alone, Diaz said.

When asked what he would tell people who are using their stoves to keep themselves warm as temperatures dip, Sgt. Diaz replied, "Not to use them. Using open flames is dangerous."

The Sunland Park Police Department had to return a second time to the home about ten hours later.  Alvarado's family members cleaning out the home reported seeing flames spark up again.

Sgt. Diaz said winds that kicked up in the evening may have started up the the small flames and hotspots.

An autopsy to determine Alvarado's cause of death is expected to take up to a week.                     

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